'Australia will always pay lip service to America'

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Melbourne, Sep 19 : Australia's relationship with China could be affected by the US election results and the Australian influence is limited to reacting to US actions, a former American diplomat has said.

Former Clinton government official Derek Shearer said Republican candidate John McCain would be more forceful with China, while a Barack Obama Democrat Administration is likely to be less confrontational.

Now visiting Australia on a US state department tour, the former US Ambassador to Finland, said he expected tough foreign diplomacy from Senator McCain.

"McCain has said that he'll try and throw Russia out of the G8 organisation because of what they did in Georgia, they're going to stand up to the rise of the Chinese military, they're going to stay in Iraq until victory, whatever that means, so in foreign policy it will be a kind of revived, muscular version of Bush foreign policy," he said.

"If Obama's elected ... in foreign policy he will bring back in the Clinton professionals, who are less confrontational, stress diplomacy, stress working with multi-lateral institutions," news.com.au quoted Shearer, as saying.

Shearer said Australia's relationship with China could be compromised if a new US government took a hardline stance.

"Because one of Australia's big relationships, economically and diplomatically is with China it would be very hard for Australia if the US and China got into a military confrontation," Shearer said.

"Under the ANZUS treaty, Australia would actually be obligated to go to war with us. So the last thing Australia would want is for us to get hostile with China."

But there were also opportunities, he said, as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's knowledge of China may help influence America.

However, Shearer said Australian politics realistically had very little impact in America.

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